Trea Turner wrapped up his solid 2016 campaign by posting a .339/.380/.612 line, five doubles, two triples and eight home runs in 29 games in September, earning a second straight NL Rookie of the Month award.
Turner finished the regular season with a .342/.370/.567 line, 14 doubles, eight triples, 13 home runs and 33 stolen bases in 73 games and 324 plate appearances, over which he was worth +3.2 fWAR.
Washington’s 23-year-old rookie infielder/outfielder hasn’t shown any sign of nerves in his fairly quick rise from 2014 1st Round draft pick (by the San Diego Padres) to the Nationals’ leadoff man and everyday center fielder, especially considering that he hadn’t played center until a few weeks before he was called up for good earlier this season.
The next step? Turner’s first trip to the postseason. Dusty Baker talked to reporters on Tuesday about what he expects from the Turner and what he has said or plans to say to the youngster as the NLDS approaches.
Will he pull Turner aside and talk to him?
“No, I’ll talk to Trea as if he’s one of the team,” Baker said. “I’ll probably have a brief meeting and that’s it. What can you say to prepare a guy? You can say all you want, but until he’s out there you really don’t know and I don’t think that it’s hit Trea, or any of the young players yet, [Wilmer] Difo or [Pedro] Severino, because right now all we’re doing is practicing for the big games, and so it’s hard to prepare somebody for what’s coming.”
As Baker explained, there isn’t much he can say to some of the Nationals’ younger players to prepare them for what the postseason is actually like.
“I can tell them all kinds of stuff, but until they experience it themselves, until they stand on that line out there during introductions and the first pitch and stuff, then and only then will they really know,” Baker said.
“Some guys respond well under that, there are other guys that don’t. There are some kids that respond under the pressure, some veterans, some people just can’t relax. I’ve had some players that, man, during practice they were something and then I talked to them years later and they told me that they couldn’t relax even during the regular season cause it was just like the last game or the seventh game of the World Series every at bat was like that and I’ve know some quality, quality people like that.”
While some of the young players are on the bubble when it comes to the postseason roster with no final decision to come until tomorrow or Friday, Turner and Severino are going to be on there.
Baker talked about what he’s seen from Severino as well, and what’s impressed him about the recently-turned-23-year-old catcher, whose importance increased when Wilson Ramos went down with a torn ACL last week.
In limited action in the majors this season, Severino was 9 for 28 (.321/.444/.607) with two doubles and two home runs.
What, in particular, has impressed Baker?
“Well, same things that impressed me in Spring Training,” he said. “His energy. And he’s always ready, he’s always paying attention. We never have to tell him in the dugout to quit fooling around, to watch to see how they’re pitching this guy or see, cause you could be in the game at any minute, especially as a catcher, you’re one foul tip away or collision away from being in the game and now you have to direct the team.
“We’ve stressed to Severino how when you’re in the game you are to direct the veteran the same way you would direct [Reynaldo] Lopez, but the veteran does have a better idea of what he wants to do, but that’s why we have the pregame meetings and how we’re going to attack the hitters.
“But Severino, what’s probably impressed me most is his ability to recall what the game plan is and how to make adjustments.”
In an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s The Sports Junkies this morning, General Manager Mike Rizzo was asked if it would be Jose Lobaton behind the plate, or if Severino will see some time in the postseason?
“I think Severino is going to get some reps, he’s going to get some games, I think he’s going to get a start or two,” Rizzo said.
“[Lobaton] has that bad ankle, which has made it more difficult to hit from the right side for him, because of the ankle, so you might have noticed that Dusty has been playing [Severino] against left-handed pitching and [Severino] has held his own. He’s a kid, he’s a rookie, but he’s pretty seasoned and pretty even-keeled.”
“His defensive skills are evident,” Rizzo continued. “He blocks pitches great, he handles balls, he’s a framer, he can throw you out as a base stealer and his swing is pretty efficient, but you’re asking a lot of a young kid to go up and play — with a handful of big league games — to go up against some of the best left-handed pitching that he’s probably ever seen in his life.”
Will Severino get the start against Clayton Kershaw on Friday night in the nation’s capital?